Ski Tourism as an Attractive Business Driver in Austria
Austria is ranked 12th among 140 countries in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 of the World Economic Forum. Austria is even rated first in terms of its tourist service infrastructure and is thus best in the world. Even though Austria is small, the country is actually a tourism giant. This is also underlined by the hard facts. There is hardly any country in the world which can match Austria in terms of its tourism revenue, which amounted to EUR 40 billion in 2016. A total of 41.5 million guests decided in favor of quality tourism Made in Austria. The treasures of nature, combined with one of the richest cultural offerings anywhere along with the highest quality of life and security, also make Austria one of the most promising tourism markets in the future as well.
Popular winter sports destinations with an impact on the environment
The most popular activity - how else could it be? - is skiing. More than half of all tourism stays in Austria in 2017 were for skiing or snowboarding vacations. Accordingly, winter sports comprise one of the most important economic factors in the country. According to current estimates, every 14th job in Austria is directly or indirectly related to winter sports. The basis is the guaranteed snow cover in the winter landscape, a good price-performance ratio, a modern skiing infrastructure and the size of the skiing areas.
However, there is something that increasingly dampens future perspectives for the tourism industry around the world i.e. that winter sports have a negative impact on the environment. For example, the natural habitats of animals and plants are adversely affected by skiing areas. Moreover, cable cars and chairlifts designed to help people ascend mountains as well as snow canons consume a lot of energy. Against this backdrop, it is becoming increasingly important for the sector to take account of the aspects of environmental sustainability and compatibility. Here Austria has also been active for years, for example with initiatives such as the transport network “Alpine Pearl”, which focuses on environmental friendliness and sustainability mobility in deploying electric-powered buses or cars for its tours and trips. Austria’s political decision makers have also realized the need to take action. One example is the organization called CIPRA, advocating the cross-border protection of the Alps. The Alpine Convention, signed by six countries and the European Community in 1991, also makes an important contribution. It is designed to promote the protection and sustainable development of the Alpine region.
Sustainable winter tourism through innovative research
Austrian research and the innovative start-up scene are playing an important and above all promising role in the development of sustainable strategies for winter tourism. For example, the start-up Neuschnee GmbH has developed a globally unique process to produce nature-like, soft and light snow on the basis of an artificial cloud. In contrast to snow from conventional snow cannons consisting of frozen water drops, “real” snow crystals are produced by the cloud. The big advantage is that one cubic meter of water ends up generating about fifteen cubic meters of snow compared to two cubic meters of snow from a snow cannon using the same amount of water. Furthermore, the artificial cloud requires less energy than the snow cannon.
Moreover, new cable car projects and other types of mobility research being carried out at present to reduce motorized private transport are among the key investment areas of the tourism industry. On balance, Austria is convincingly engaged in sustainability efforts in skiing as shown by a wide variety of measures promoting the most environmentally sound use of resources as possible. International investors focusing on ski tourism in the countryside benefit from more than just an attractive landscape with a diverse and customized winter sports offering. Innovative research in the fields of environment and mobility are important factors lending a real added value to the tourism experience and ultimately to Austria as a business location.